It's no surprise that George Romero's favorite colors are blue and gold. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1968, and he remains passionately loyal to his alma mater, including the Cal football team, while he fights for his life. Romero, 64, has terminal brain cancer. But just as he's convinced that Cal can return to the Rose Bowl after 52 years, he truly thinks he can beat his medical condition despite ongoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He lives in a San Jose residential care facility. In late July, he received a phone call at a Los Gatos nursing home, where he was staying after having surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. "Mr. Romero, this is Cal football coach Jeff Tedford."
Romero figured it was Roger Buttermore, an old Pioneer High School classmate, playing a trick on him. "What the hell happened at that Oregon State game?" Romero asked. The last-second defeat to Oregon State in 2007, which cost Cal a No. 1 national ranking, remains Tedford's most crushing defeat in his eight years at Cal. "Well, Mr. Romero, we're going to try to not let that happen again," the voice on the other end said patiently. Romero muttered, "Roger, is this you?" "Mr. Romero," the voice said, "I know you're not going to believe this, but this is Jeff Tedford." "Coach," an embarrassed Romero said, "this is the best get-well greeting that I could possibly have."